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County Looking for More Childcare Feedback, With New Policy Proposals Coming This Fall

Arlington is looking for a bit more feedback on the county’s plans to expand access to childcare, releasing a new community survey on the topic.

The county rolled out the 19-question form today (Friday), just a few weeks after the County Board signed off on a final version of its “Childcare Action Plan.”

That document calls for the implementation of several new initiatives, like a subsidy program to defray childcare costs for families who don’t qualify for state assistance and the streamlining of the county’s online resources for parents. But the Board is also weighing some zoning and code changes to make it easier for daycare facilities to operate in Arlington, and pledged to collect more community feedback ahead of proposing those policy tweaks later this fall.

The survey asks respondents how they currently meet their childcare needs — via a public or private childcare program, a babysitter or a family day home childcare provider — and in what zip code of the county they live, work and patronize childcare facilities.

Respondents are also asked to select their preference for where they’d like to see daycare facilities located. That’s a key point the Board has debated in the past, as it found that many county workers rely on childcare services in neighboring localities like Falls Church or Fairfax County. Members have often sought more clarity on whether that’s because services in Arlington are inaccessible or because people who work in Arlington often live outside of the county and are looking for closer options.

The survey also includes questions on what barriers to accessing childcare parents encounter around the county. Available responses include factors like transportation, cost, a lack of care when it’s most needed (before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m.) and potential language barriers.

The county is also planning a community forum on the childcare initiative next month. The meeting, scheduled for Sept. 17 from 7-9:30 p.m. at 2100 Washington Blvd, will focus on collecting opinions on some potential changes the Board could make. Per a county event description, those include the following topics:

  • Increasing the maximum number of children from nine to 12 in family day care homes and eliminating or adjusting the use permit requirement
  • Land use standards for family day care homes
  • Parking requirements for center-based and family-based child care programs
  • Group size requirements for center-based child care programs
  • Teacher-child ratio requirements for center-based and family-based child care programs
  • Teacher qualifications for center-based child care programs

The Board is aiming to pass more childcare changes by December.

File photo

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